New mothers adapting to challenges of raising a child during pandemic

Becoming a mom is always difficult, but for many Oregon mothers who had a child during the pandemic, they have found that some stresses of raising an infant are only compounded by the changes to society.

Whether it’s a feeling of isolation from the pandemic’s limited social interaction or challenges with finding child care, new parents are finding a variety of difficulties that come with parenting during the pandemic.

According to the State of Babies Yearbook 2021 report — an annual snapshot of how infants, toddlers and their families are faring by the national nonprofit Zero to Three — families of young children were one of the groups hardest-hit by COVID across the nation. The report looked at how each state’s parents of infants have fared during the pandemic, considering criteria such as how many were low income, child care services and the percent that had health care.

Nationally, more than half of families who reported having low income before COVID-19 lost income during the pandemic, and the U.S. ranked 33 out of 38 countries when it came to childhood poverty, according to the report.

Sabrina Hershey Black, foreground, with 2-month-old Oakes Black, husband Bondy Black and 4-year-old son Boden Black celebrate another Mother's Day during the pandemic.

Some mothers in Oregon said while they didn’t struggle with poverty because of the pandemic, it has made it harder to maintain a reasonable work schedule and to connect with and get support from family and friends. 

“It’s been a lot different than we expected,” said Albany resident Jennifer Kelley, who had her first child, Clara, in May. “Other than maybe through phone calls and text messages and occasional video calls, we haven’t really had a lot of family or friend interaction.”